Anni Svala: Quality is the cornerstone of our work – even in the middle of a crisis

28.5.2020 11:22
Piirroskuvassa kahdet kasvot kuvattuna sivusta päin, kasvojen ääriviivat muodostuvat hehkulampuista, joissa on pitkä valkoinen johto. Hehkulamput ovat hahmojen aivoina.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught a great deal to Tamro and the pharmaceutical sector. However, one thing did not need highlighting in the midst of the surge in demand for pharmaceuticals caused by the crisis, self-evident as it was: quality. During the company’s 125-year history, the demand of quality have been instilled in the work of every employee at Tamro, writes Quality Director Anni Svala in her blog.

At Tamro, we have drawn lessons from the surge in demand for pharmaceuticals caused by COVID-19 back in March. Over the spring, we have drafted a roadmap to prepare against similar situations and help us put into practice the lessons learned. It is important that all our teams, customers and stakeholders have been involved in the work. A big thanks to everyone for your input!

The way we understand and measure quality has not been changed by the current crisis. In our industry, quality is non-negotiable. It is clear to us that in a crisis, the distribution of critical medicines must be uninterrupted at all times. We must ensure the nationwide and equal supply of medicines.

At Tamro and in our industry as a whole, meeting quality requirements is our second nature. We all understand that the safety of patients and good distribution practices are the cornerstones of our work. In a crisis, our decisions are always founded on patient safety and the continuity of medical treatments.

I have learned from COVID-19 that... Tamro, I am surrounded by a strong team of talented professionals. It is great to be a part of an organisation filled with amazing professionals who go the extra mile, carry their weight and do their best in all situations.

I started as Quality Director in December last year and immediately faced my first test as I had to coordinate a team set up to prepare against the epidemic and ensure our business continuity. For me, it was a great expression of trust.

From a quality perspective, it is essential to make sure that employees are coping well. Our own preparedness for the COVID-19 pandemic and enhanced hygiene practices have also been effective. In terms of sick leaves, we have even had a slight decline from the norm this time of year.

During the spring, we met frequently with other companies in the sector under Fimea’s direction. Going forward, in the event of surges in demand, it is important to create an up-to-date picture of the situation with stakeholders and public authorities in order to ensure that pharmaceutical companies can form a common vision and consensus on the necessary measures.

We also learned a lot about the importance of coordinating communication efforts. Our cooperation with other pharmaceutical wholesalers, Oriola and Magnum, was highly effective. Despite the unfamiliar situation, our mutual cooperation helped get us all through. Next time, we’re certain to do even better! After all, when it comes to sudden surges in the demand for medicines, we are all in the same boat.

The COVID-19 crisis... by no means over. Personally, I have worked mostly remotely from home and only visit the office when absolutely necessary. To be sure, we are working carefully on Tamro’s exit strategy, in other words how to ensure a safe return to old routines in a way that ensures that our readiness remains normal. One might think that as a major pharmaceutical company that is critical to the security of supply, we should be at the forefront of efforts to return to pre-pandemic ways, but this is not the case.  On the contrary, we will return to working from the office in stages and only after the summer when the circumstances permit it. Naturally, people miss being back at the office, and the desire to return to familiar routines is strong. Still, we must think about the safety of all employees and our operational capacity as a whole. When we eventually return to Tamrotalo in Vantaa and our other offices in a controlled manner, we do so by ensuring that everyone is able to work safely and that our operations continue to run normally.

For Finnish society...

...the turmoil of the past year has been historic in scope. By all accounts, a certain fatigue of the crisis is beginning to set in, and uncertainty over how long the pandemic will last only makes things worse. My wish is that the Finnish people could learn to accept the situation and live in the moment while being responsible and aware of the risks. If we could know the end date of the crisis, people would find it easier to push on and believe in the future. Because all we have is uncertainty, all we can do is adapt to the new situation. Unity and trust will help in this effort. The country’s leadership must have a clear plan for the pandemic, while us citizens need to have faith in the measures taken by society aimed at protecting us all.

At Tamro, the atmosphere has been constructive and positive about the future. People have come forward spontaneously to help one another – as they always have. These challenging times have shown me how a positive attitude, commitment and openness can create a sense of trust and togetherness that carries us through difficult times. This is a good place from which to continue on our shared journey. For the good of Finnish healthcare and everyone in Finland.


Tamron laatu- ja vastuunalainen johtaja Anni Svala.

Anni Svala

Quality Director and Responsible Pharmacist

I live in... Jätkäsaari, Helsinki.

By training, I am a... pharmacist.

My getaway from daily routines is... spending time at the summer house in Snappertuna with friends and family.

I’ll never give up... music and the little things in life, such as a good cup of coffee in the afternoon.

My motto: There are always chances to learn and better yourself. As humans, we’re never a finished product.